I've been watching Britain's Escape to the Country. It's my relaxation screen-time right now. And on every show the presenter is quick to tell us that the quaint little village we're visiting this time has a local pub or two in easy walking distance. Often they're hundreds of years old with antique signs swinging out front declaring "The Red Lion" or "The Queen's Arms" is there. A village pub says community to me -- a place where everyone can go, cozy, quaint, warm, friendly, full of good food and good drink and good company.
Why don't we have village pubs in the U.S.A.?
Anna is living in Japan now, so we're eager to learn more about Japanese culture. Yesterday Adam shared a youtube video from a young married girl, a transplant from the US to Japan. She loves to visit Japanese "onsun," local bath houses that are scattered all over that country.
Onsun bath houses are not expensive. It's a lovely, peaceful spa, immaculate and soul-restoring. For about $6 this young woman can calm her ruffled feathers for an hour and experience quiet community with other Japanese women. To enjoy this in the states, I guess I'd need to visit a fancy spa and pay a lot of money, something I've never done. And these Japanese bath houses are fed by underground springs, and the water is changed every evening! They provide all the amenities you need.
Why don't we have local bath houses like that in the U.S.A.?
For years I loved watching Rick Steves every Saturday and traveled around Europe with him. Did you? It seemed like every Italian town, every French or Spanish village, every English hamlet had a market once or twice each week -- every village had its own little market. These fresh markets filled the village square (another lovely idea!), and everyone shopped there for bread, veggies and fruit, meat, fish, even clothes or antiques or books. I was mesmerized by such a central community event held every week for hundreds of years. What a neighborly thing! What do American towns have to compare? The local strip mall?
Why don't we have village markets like that in the U.S.A.?
I'm not trashing my country, I promise. But I'm wondering if we lack an essential element of community-mindedness that is assumed in other parts of the world. I'm trying to think if we have anything really comparable to these deeply-ingrained community gathering places in other lands. We have playgrounds and parks, but sometimes they seem scary, and certainly everybody doesn't frequent them. Shopping malls don't have a personal or friendly feel; like the rest of America, they are purely consumeristic. Do any of you feel we are missing this element in our culture? What could we do to try to reverse it, one town at a time? I know some small towns (Oriental is one) do have a rich feeling of community, but most do not. I think it requires a public location for people to gather -- a green, a coffee shop, a market. People move in and move out and never feel they belong. There's nowhere to go to begin to fit in. No local pub. (And a bar in the U.S. just does not at all have the same effect!) No hundred year old market. (Walmart is a sad substitute!) No onsun. I wish I had such a place!
What do you think?